Olympic and Battle of Britain Hero Commemorated
No 41 (Reserve) Squadron at RAF Coningsby have celebrated the life of a former squadron commander who was also a renowned Olympian.
Donald Finlay was Officer Commanding in the latter period of the Battle of Britain in 1940. As a pre-war athlete he had competed as a hurdler in both the 1932 & 1936 games, winning silver and bronze medals. After the war, in the London games of 1948, Finlay was the British Team Captain and was selected to take the Athletes Oath on behalf of all the other athletes competing in the games. During the Olympic opening ceremony this year this oath was taken by Sarah Stevenson, the British Taekwondo athlete. Don Finlay retired from the RAF as a Group Captain.
The achievements of Don Finlay have been recognised by his old squadron, who have painted one of their Tornado GR4 aircraft in a distinctive tail scheme. The design incorporates the squadron symbol, the Cross of Lorraine, with an image of a hurdler. The code letters EB-Z are a reference to the Spitfire aircraft that the then Squadron Leader Don Finlay flew with the squadron. The aircraft was painted by the SERCO Surface Finish Section at RAF Lossiemouth.
Officer Commanding 41, Wing Commander Mark Rodden, said, “Don Finlay had a remarkable career, both as an athlete and as a wartime leader. We are honoured to be associated with him, particularly at a time when we are sharing the excitement of the Olympics being held in our country.”
Photographer: SAC Dan Herrick